Jonathan Pell, Artistic Director TDO, Summer of Opera, Part 1

by Megan Meister

I am in San Francisco for the Francesca Zambello production of Wagner’s RING.  Last night was DAS RHEINGOLD, the first of the four works that comprise the cycle, and I have already seen several Dallas people who have also made the journey.

The production was very good and bodes well for the rest of the cycle.  The physical production is quite striking, with stunning sets, costumes and video projections.  I was particularly struck by the final image of the gods walking up a gangplank, dressed in summer whites, laughing and drinking champagne, oblivious to the fact that Valhalla was more like they were embarking on the HMS Titanic than crossing the rainbow bridge.

Half of the cast of fourteen singers have already appeared with the Dallas Opera, so it was wonderful to see them again after the performance.  Only one of them, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop, who is the Fricka here, sang a Wagnerian role in Dallas (she was Waltraute in our last GOETTERDAEMMERUNG) so it was exciting to hear so many of these wonderful singers in this repertoire.

Betsy Bishop will be back in Dallas in February for Brangane in our TRISTAN & ISOLDE.  The Loge was Stefan Margita (who was in our 1997 production of KATYA) Mime was David Cangelosi, who was just in Dallas as Shuisky in BORIS GODUNOV, and Daniel Sumegi, who sang “Timur” in TURANDOT in Dallas several years ago was the Fafner.  Gordon Hawkins, who has sung frequently with TDO, including the title roles in RIGOLETTO and PORGY & BESS, was the remarkable Alberich, and Brandon Jovanovich was Froh, who returns to the stage tonight as Siegmund in DIE WALKURE.  I can hardly wait!

Before that, however, I am hearing some singers audition this afternoon.  They are the Adler Fellows, members of the San Francisco Young Artists Program.  It is a remarkable training ground that over the years has produced many of the world’s greatest singers, including two artists who debuted in Dallas this past season, Elena Bocharova (Marina in BORIS GODUNOV) and Laura Claycomb (Gilda in RIGOLETTO.)

I promise another report soon.

Jonathan

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